Now that Ontario’s highest court has found most laws surrounding prostitution in Canada are unconstitutional, people on all sides of the debate are urging Parliament to act.

In a landmark ruling likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Ontario Court of Appeal rendered a decision on March 26 that legalizes brothels and allows prostitutes to hire protection and other staff.  Public solicitation and pimping remain illegal but the court ruled that prostitutes have a constitutional right to work in safe environments.

However, the Ontario court suspended implementation of its decision for one year to give Parliament time to amend the criminal code.

North Bay parishioners appeal to Vatican over closures


Aggrieved North Bay parishioners claim their attempt to overturn a decision to close and sell their churches was turned down “on procedural grounds.”

Former St. Rita’s and Corpus Christi parishioners are appealing a Congregation for the Clergy decision to the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura. The parishioners hope to get the Apostolic Signatura to rule “on the substantive merits of our two cases,” said former Corpus Christi parishioner Phillip Penna in an email to The Catholic Register.

Decrees issued by the Congregation for the Clergy Jan. 13 disallowed the former parishioner’s attempt to overturn Sault Ste. Marie Bishop Jean Plouffe’s decision to reduce the two churches “to profane but not unbecoming use” because their petition was launched too late under the Code of Canon Law.

D&P reeling after government imposes 65 per cent funding cut


Development and Peace is facing significant program reductions and staff cuts after the 45-year-old Catholic lay movement was hit by a 65 per cent cut in government funding.

“It’s going to be a very difficult period for the organization,” said D&P executive director Michael Casey. “It’s not just staff here or the institution here in Canada. You look at the impact it’s going to have on the partners.”

Champions of human rights - Shahbaz Bhatti and Susana Trimarco


OTTAWA - The Canadian government has recognized two outstanding defenders of religious freedom and human rights when awards were granted to the assassinated Pakistani Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Argentinian anti-trafficking activist Susana Trimarco.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird presented the awards at the 2012 John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights Award ceremony Mar. 14 at the former Ottawa City Hall.

Raise taxes for common good: ISARC


The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition is telling Ontario’s Liberal government what it didn’t want to hear from economist Don Drummond — raise taxes.

The McGuinty government mandated the Drummond Commission to come up with ways to balance the province’s books but forbade the former bank economist from considering more taxes. ISARC makes no bones about urging action on the revenue side of the equation.

Montreal Auxiliary Bishop Christian Lépine succeeds Cardinal Turcotte as archbishop of Montreal


OTTAWA - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who reached retirement age last June, and appointed Christian Lépine to succeed him as Archbishop of Montreal.

Named last July as auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Lépine, 60, was ordained to the episcopacy last September with auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd. His installation will take place on April 27.

The archbishop-elect served as director of the Grand Seminary of Montreal from 2000 until 2006, and since 2006 as pastor for two parishes in the diocese before becoming an auxiliary bishop. With degrees in theology from the University of Montreal, and philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Lépine also served for a year in the Vatican's Secretariat of State and for a year in the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The two solitudes of family planning


OTTAWA - The same week a student group came under fire for distributing condoms on the Saint Paul University (SPU) campus, a pro-life group hosted a panel on the benefits of natural family planning (NFP), revealing the contrasts between artificial and natural means of preventing pregnancy.

SPU administrators ordered the student group to stop leaving a bowl of condoms for free pickup by students. That prompted a student to write an open letter, backed by 100 others, that led to stories by the news media.

POWER Study tackles health equity


If all Ontarians were as healthy as those with higher incomes there would be 231,000 fewer disabled people and about 3,300 fewer deaths per year, found a recent study from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital.

The final chapter of the six-year long POWER Study examining health equity was released last month from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). The POWER study (Project for an Ontario Women’s Health Evidence-Based Report) examined access, quality and outcomes of care across the province for the leading causes of disease and disability and how they varied by sex, income, ethnicity and where one lives. The 12-volume study cost $4.3 million and involved 60 researchers.

Vinnie’s Wallet to offer loans for men in need


The St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Ursuline Sisters in Chatham, Ont., are not likely to make a dent in Canada’s $2 billion per year payday loan industry, but in their own small way will be taking them on.

On May 1, 2010 the Ursuline Sisters used $20,000 to launch a microfinance venture they call Angela’s Pocket. With close ties to The Women’s Centre and the local United Way, Angela’s Pocket has lent out about $8,000 in small loans to women who otherwise couldn’t raise money. The loans are for everything from a return to school to basic household appliances.

Human trafficking bill passes hurdle


A bill to enable Canada to prosecute human-trafficking involving Canadian citizens or permanent residents overseas received unanimous approval March 15 by the Parliamentary Justice Committee.

Justice Committee members heard witnesses from anti-human trafficking groups, including a survivor of trafficking into the sex trade, speak in favor of MP Joy Smith’s Bill C-310 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking of persons). In a rare consensus across party lines, MPs went through the Bill line by line before adopting it and sending it back to the House of Commons for third reading debate.

LifeSiteNews responds in defamation suit


OTTAWA - A year after Quebec priest Fr. Raymond Gravel filed a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against LifeSiteNews (LSN), the online pro-life news service has filed a defence that argues the lawsuit is an attack on press freedom.

On its website, LSN wrote it is “now free to present many of the disturbing details about what we will argue is an abusive and politically-motivated lawsuit that amounts to an extreme attack on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.”